Tyler School of Art: MFA in Graphic & Interactive Design

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Editor’s Note: In this series, Steven Brower, former creative director of Print, educator and program director, explores graphic design MFA programs across the country. Click here to view other programs profiled. Keep reading for more information about Temple University, Tyler School of Art’s MFA program in Graphic & Interactive Design.

On the campus of Temple University, Tyler School of Art is in close proximity to the city’s subway and regional rail system, providing ready access to the wealth of arts and culture throughout Philadelphia and the region. It’s housed in a new, 255,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. It’s a two-year, full-time program. The program originated circa 1980. Joseph Scorsone took over as MFA Program Head in 1982, followed by Kelly Holohan in 2010.

Tyler’s MFA program in Graphic & Interactive Design [GAID] is an intensive two-year immersion in the practice of design. The program is highly selective, seeking students whose work demonstrates conceptual depth and experimentation, and strong visual skills. The program emphasizes the role of designer as author and entrepreneur, with students defining the content and form of large-scale, semester-long projects in a wide variety of forms such as books, posters, folios, games, clocks, wearable design, interactive narrative, web sites and environmental design. Extensive research, writing, image-making and editing, as well as exploration of form and technique, are integral to the process.


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GAID’s design incubator, The Hatchery, is a new initiative to promote entrepreneurship and transform student projects into marketable products and provide them with real-world experience and the opportunity to be their own client. They identify specific MFA projects that have great entrepreneurial potential and guide students through the rigorous processes to make them real.

In addition, Design for Social Change has always been an important aspect of the program. MFA students frequently choose to generate positive change through design by addressing environmental, social or political issues in their projects.

Graduate faculty, who are internationally recognized practitioners in the field, work closely with the MFA students in a program fueled by collaborative exploration. While faculty members guide students in defining and focusing on their unique projects, all students are engaged in supporting the development of each other’s work through regular group critiques and shared research.

As an extremely small and selective program, they accept only four to five MFA candidates per year. The close working relationship between faculty and graduate students at Tyler is an important factor for many designers when they choose an MFA program. The split between those who go on to teach following grauation and those who work for studios, agencies or run their own is about 50/50.

Currently, there are 8 full-time professors (Kelly Holohan, Abby Guido, Alice Drueding, Stephanie Knopp, Paul Sheriff, Dermot MacCormack, Scott Laserow, Bryan Satalino) and several adjuncts. Visiting artists run 2 day workshops and have included Stefan Sagmeister, James Victore, Christoph Neiman, Louise Fili, Gail Anderson, Matteo Bologna, Robynne Raye and Paula Scher.

Esteemed alumnus have included Frank Baseman, Gavin Cooper, Ted Mauseth, Andrea Pippins, Scotty Reifsnyder among many others.

Tuition: For Pennsylvania residents in the 2013-14 academic year, tuition was $861/per credit. Out-of-state residents cost was $1,177/per credit. They currently have four graduate assistantships available in the program. They are awarded based on performance, with second-year MFA candidates getting first consideration.

Website: http://tylerdesignmfa.com/2014/

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